North Korea has blown up its joint liaison office with South Korea after Kim Jong Un’s sister threatened military action at the Korean border.
Seoul’s Unification Ministry said the destruction of the building in the North Korean border town of Kaesong happened on Tuesday.
South Korean media reported a large explosion was heard and smoke could be seen rising over Kaesong.
The explosion came three days after Kim Yo Jung, the sister of the North Korean leader, threatened military action saying Seoul will soon witness the collapse of the ‘useless’ inter-Korean liaison office, rasing tensions between the two sides amid stalled nuclear negotiations with the US.
She said: ‘By exercising my power authorised by the supreme leader, our party and the state, I gave an instruction to the arms of the department in charge of the affairs with enemy to decisively carry out the next action.
‘If I drop a hint of our next plan the (South Korean) authorities are anxious about, the right to taking the next action against the enemy will be entrusted to the General Staff of our army,’ she said.
‘Our army, too, will determine something for cooling down our people’s resentment and surely carry out it, I believe.’
The inter-Korean liaison office was established in 2018 as part of a series of projects aimed at reducing tensions between the two Koreas.
North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency said on Tuesday that the nation destroyed the office in a “terrific explosion” because its “enraged people” were determined to “force (the) human scum and those, who have sheltered the scum, to pay dearly for their crimes,” apparently referring to North Korean defectors who for years have floated anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border.
The North also said it has cut off all government and military communication channels with the South while threatening to abandon bilateral peace agreements reached during North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s three summits with Moon in 2018.
The South Korean Ministry of National Defense issued a statement Tuesday saying the country’s military was maintaining “a firm readiness posture by closely monitoring the North Korean military’s movements around the clock, and is making every effort to prevent the military crisis from escalating due to stable management of the situation.”
“If North Korea carries out military provocation, the South Korean military will respond strongly,” the defense ministry added.
Several reports also claimed that the North Koren government has been criticizing the South Korean government for not doing enough to stop citizens’ groups flying balloons into the North that contain anti-Pyongyang leaflets.
“[The] South Korean government did show strong willingness to restrict these leaflets sent by North Korean defectors in the South. But North Korea is adamant to bring inter-Korean relations back to the hostile era and seems to conclude that there’s nothing more to expect from South Korean President Moon Jae-in,” Cheong Seong Chang, Director of Center for North Korean Studies at The Sejong Institute in Seoul, told ABC News.